Week 176 August 12, 2017

You may notice a tiny different look to our blog this week – tiny, but with a big change in viewing our site. I discovered “Categories,” thanks to a friend who asked for a way to see only the posts from when we were in Ireland. So now you, too, if you want, can select a Category like Alberta, Europe, Italy, New York, or South Africa, for example, to see what we wrote for when we were there. Just scroll down on the right side under Where In the World Have We Been? for Categories organized by Continent, then Country, and where applicable State/Province or Territory.  Then just click on whichever one you want to see.
In addition to making that change, this week included other highlights. First, we celebrated my brother’s wife’s birthday with a fun dinner out, just before my brother and his family left for a vacation in Florida. This is the first time that Loren and I have been in New York for her birthday. We have now, fairly recently, been here for both their daughters’ Sweet 16s, my brother’s 50th, and now a special day of hers. Very special!
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Next, I reached out by email then phone to another cousin who I had never met. I learned about him from contacts made through research in Albany, New York about my family heritage. I am so glad that I talked with him! He is a third cousin, once removed as I understand it – meaning that he and my mother have the same great-grandparents. This cousin actually has their Bible from 1865 which documents family Marriages, Births and Deaths. He lives in Louisiana, so it will be some time before we can visit in person.
This week Loren and I attended a UU Sunday Worship Service which was different, in that it included several good reminders for attending to the health of the mind, and, how to live in the present moment to stave off worry and regret – using positive humor. Three mantras I took away are:
   Your life is your garden, your thoughts are the seeds.
   If you life isn’t awesome, you’re watering the weeds!
   this moment
   this breath, and
   The grass is green, right here.
Speaking of UUs, we received from a dear friend brother this link to “Wonderful World” a video collage in memory of the beauty of our friend’s photography. We were invited to  feel free to forward the link for others to enjoy:
Otherwise our week included running errands, hiking – when the weather permitted, and Bikram yoga classes, which included my first silent class in a long time. One day an errand took us to Yonkers, said Yahn-kiz if you are a local. I have not been there in probably 30 years or more. When we passed by Nathan’s, Loren indulged me in turning around for a nostalgic hot dog lunch. He agreed, it was yummy, just like I remembered!
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Then, we stopped at a lemonade stand. I remember a motivational speaker once saying, “When you see kids with a lemonade stand, stop and buy something. It helps them start to develop their entrepreneurial skills.” So I try to do that when I can, paying forward from when people stopped for my childhood lemonade stand. This particular one had choices – lemonade or yummy sweet iced tea. Loren captured the moment for posterity…


On one of our hikes I went off trail to photo a sunset – sometimes my photos do not do justice to the scene. Nonetheless, it was worth it though because when I looked down I noticed pachysandra growing. This is a ground cover that I have such fond memories of my Mom cultivating and tending it amidst our front yard shrubbery when I was a wee one. Another nostalgic moment this week.
The wildlife we saw on this hike included a hawk flying near us – with effort – because it was carrying a rabbit off in its claws! We had noticed that the geese had left the lake since we returned last week, now we have enjoyed a pair of ducks in their place.
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And, near a school playground where we hiked, I was happy to see the US map, given our  recent travels across the states. And, we were privileged to receive some of the bounty of the summer gardeners who were pulling the remains of flat-leaf- and curly-kale, as well as Swiss chard. We have enjoyed kale chips, kale salad, and a veggie side dish this week!
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What else we saw that was inspiring were four helpful charts along the trail for identifying butterflies, trees, flowers and birds of the world or North America. How nice!
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Otherwise, travel planning, sorting and beginning packing rounded out our week. After nine months in the US, it is amazing that we will again head overseas next week. In our planning, we have had to remember to decipher hours and days from the notation that most of the rest of the world uses. For example time is expressed with the 24 hour clock, so 1600 hours is 4pm, and, days come before months – like 1/10/17 is October 1st, not January 10th. We could not have a lovelier place to be working on our plans! Even if every day is not gorgeous, it is usually peaceful. We will very much miss our time here.
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I will finish with what one of my cousins wrote a year ago:
“Will you ever return? … One saying goes ‘If you stay away more than 3 years you will never return,’ Soooo come home soon! … Please save Asia, India, China etc. for your next trip before travel fatigue takes over. We miss you and love you both. I have already had my say.”
Thanks dear cousin! I wonder, does our eight month sojourn in the US count for coming home? We did spend two months in California, just not in our own house… If all goes as we hope, Loren and I will see Egypt, India, Oceania, and southeast Asia this time, after Portugal, Spain and Italy again. We expect to be returning to the US in two years or so…

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